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Planning a trip to Africa? Well you’ve come to the right place!

I’ve been travelling, backpacking and flashpacking my way through Africa for 10 years now and the whole reason this site exists, is to help others do the same!

On this page you’ll find my favourite resources to help you plan your own amazing and life-changing trip across the African continent!

This guide includes all kinds of information, from how to start planning your trip to great apps to use, from sample itineraries to recommended hostels, from how to get around to suggestions on where to sleep, what to pack and how to look after your health when you travel.

As I discover new cool places, hotels, apps and products to help you travel Africa in the most awesome way possible, I’ll add them to the list!

Start Here

Africa Travel Itineraries

I love creating the most epic itineraries and here are a few of my favourites to give you some ideas and inspiration. Includes things to see & do and where to stay.

Visas

Knowing whether you need a visa or not, how much it’s going to cost you and whether you need to apply in advance is one of your biggest considerations when travelling to Africa.

The rules vary from country to country and from passport to passport so you need to ensure you are prepared. Just always make sure you have 6 months left on your passport and at least 2 pages per country for stamps and visas.

The embassies are always your best source of information, but you can also check here.

  • Project Visa: This is a great resource to get information on the visas you need for every country.
  • Wikipedia: You can check your visa requirements by nationality.

Guidebooks

I am a big fan of guidebooks and these are my two favourite brands:

  • Lonely Planet: I’ve been a fan of Lonely Planet guides forever and travel with one pretty much everywhere I go.
  • Bradt Travel Guides: The Bradt guides are incredible and super detailed. I prefer them for the more off the beaten track destinations.

What to Pack

 

Here are my Africa packing lists to ensure you have a fun, comfortable and prepared trip to Africa, including clothes, electrical equipment, toiletries, baggage and more!

My Favourite Africa Quotes

 

 “I never knew of a Morning in Africa when I woke up and was not happy.” (Ernest Hemingway)

“The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to.” (Richard Mullin)

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” (African Proverb)

Getting To & Around Africa

Planes

Flights to Africa aren’t always as expensive as people think they are, especially if you can be a little bit flexible on your dates. I usually compare deals on the following sites:

  • Skyscanner: This is my go-to flight search engine for finding cheap flights to and within Africa. I usually play about with the dates a little, to get the best deals. You can also set up flight alerts.
  • Momondo: I’ll sometimes cross check flights on Momondo. Sometimes you find better deals on here.

Trains

Train travel in Africa is one of my favourite things to do and a great insight into life in this fascinating continent. I always think it’s a shame that the rail network isn’t more extensive as it would be amazing!

The quality of the trains vary wildly, from the fancy Blue Train in South Africa, to the rickety Tazara train that runs between Zambia and Tanzania – but it’s always an adventure!

  • The Man in Seat 61: This is my favourite blog/info site for train travel. There’s even a great interactive Africa train map!
  • Africa by train: the continents best rail journeys: Great article about some of the journeys you can take in Africa.
  • Kenya Railways: This is the place to book your seat on the Nairobi to Mombasa SGR train. Unfortunately at the moment they only accept M-PESA as payment, so you’ll either need to find someone with M-PESA to do it for, go through a booking agent or go down to the station yourself.
  • The Tazara Train: I took this train a few years ago and whilst it’s not fancy in any way shape or form (quite the opposite in fact), it was an experience!
  • Shosholoza Meyl: This was the train that my friend Lucia and I took between Cape Town and Johannesburg. This is a sleeper train, but was good fun! The best way to book is to go down to the station and book yourself in advance (it books up) or you could try using a travel agent.
  • The Blue Train: One of the most luxurious train journeys in the world, going from Cape Town to Pretoria.
  • Desert Express: A different way to experience Namibia, travelling between Windhoek and Swakopmund.
  • Rovos Rail: The Pride of Africa, one of the fanciest trains in the world going through South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania.

Automobiles

Buses in Africa vary greatly! There are little public mini buses you pick up around town, bigger coaches that are good for long distances and hop-on, hop-off tourist buses. The companies below are the ones that I’ve found to be pretty reliable and good for long distance journeys.

Most of the buses are best booked in country (and it’s cheaper that way), maybe a few days before or you can go through a booking agent. Many hotels and safari operators can also help you with bus tickets for a small fee.

  • Modern Coast Express: A reliable bus service throughout Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.
  • The Guardian Coach: Coaches around Kenya.
  • Impala Shuttle: Transfers between Nairobi and the Kilimanjaro region. This is the company I used to travel from Moshi to Nairobi after my Kilimanjaro climb.
  • Riverside Shuttle: Transfers between Nairobi, Kilimanjaro International Airport, Arusha and Moshi.
  • All Africa Shuttles: Buses in Kenya and Tanzania.
  • Kilimanjaro Express: My favourite bus to take between Arusha/Moshi and Bagamoyo/Dar es Salaam. Book when there.
  • Tahmeed: I use this company to travel between Mombasa and Arusha/Moshi.
  • Intercape: A reliable bus company that operates in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.
  • Jonda Bus: These buses are good for travel between South Luangwa and Lusaka.
  • Mazhandu Family Bus Services: A good company that travels between Livingstone and various other destinations in Zambia.
  • Baz Bus: Hop-on, hop-off backpacker buses in South Africa.

Cool & Useful Apps

 

Here are my Africa packing lists to ensure you have a fun, comfortable and prepared trip to Africa, including clothes, electrical equipment, toiletries, baggage and more!

  • Units Plus: This is a handy app for checking currency rates on the go.
  • Maps.me: Great offline maps app, useful for when you are in the middle of nowhere.
  • Google Maps: I pretty much always use Google maps to plot my routes.
  • SkyView: Impress your friends with your knowledge of the night sky. And believe me, you’ll see a lot of it in Africa!
  • Whatsapp: Everyone uses Whatsapp to communicate in Africa, so download it before you go.
  • Sasol eBirds of Southern Africa: Do you know your Lilac-breasted Roller from your African Hoopoe? With this app you will!

Groups & Forums

 

  • Backpacking Africa Facebook Group: I manage this group and it’s always a great place to ask for recommendations for places to stay, safari companies, how to get around or find travel buddies. You’ll find that there are a lot of well-travelled Africa lovers in this group so you’ll usually get the help you need! I suggest you join immediately!
  • West Africa Travellers: This is the group with the most info if you’re heading over to the West side of the continent.

Great Books About Africa

 

You can find more books on each individual country page.

Accommodation

During the high seasons a lot of the best places book up, so I always advise to book in advance if you can.

If you’re camping, this is less of a problem as there’s usually always space to pitch a tent, but I still suggest you at least call ahead to be sure.

There are also a lot of places that you won’t find on any booking sites, so traveller or local are often the best for this or good old Google. Ask at any bar, in any campsite or lodge, in any part of Africa and someone will be able to point you in the right direction.

To help you along, I’ve listed my favourite booking sites here:

  • Booking.com: This is my favourite site for booking my accommodation in Africa, as I find that they have the widest range.
  • Hostelworld: I also use sometimes use Hostelworld.
  • SafariNow: They have a great range of accommodation across Africa.
  • Airbnb: Occasionally, I also use Airbnb and if you’re a new sign up, you’ll also get £30 credit using this link.
  • Tripadvisor: I love using TripAdvisor to cross reference all the hotel reviews. They also show the hotel deals.
  • HotelsCombined: This site compares all the different prices from the various booking sites.

My Favourite Places to Stay

 

  • COMING SOON

Health & Safety

These sites offer a great starting point to ensure you are protected whilst travelling in Africa.

I strongly advise that you seek the advice of your doctor or a specialist travel clinic before you travel to Africa to ensure you are covered for everything.

Safety

General Health Info

  • World Health Organisation: The major authority on travel health everywhere in the world.
  • The Travel Doctor: Lot’s of useful information for what vaccinations and medications you may want to consider, by country or region.
  • Nomad Travel Clinic: This is where I go to get my injections in the UK (the ones I can’t get free from my GBP).

Malaria

Yellow Fever

Travel Insurance

It’s so important that you have travel insurance when travelling through Africa to ensure you are covered in case of emergencies.

Hospital treatment can be very expensive in Africa, especially if you need airlifting to a big city for treatment. Just make sure you read the small print!

I tend to switch between a few different companies for my travel insurance, depending on my needs:

  • World Nomads: They offer a great range of travel insurance for all of your adventurous, overland and backpacking needs.
  • Outbacker: If I don’t use World Nomads, I use Outbacker (UK only) who have a similar level of cover.
  • First Allied: They offer insurance to a wide range of nationalities, not limited just to UK or Europe. They can provide high-risk insurance for the full duration of your trip or for just a couple of days as a bolt on.
  • Battleface: Good for high-risk destinations. They will insure you for a minimum of 5 days, so as above, you can get normal insurance to cover you for the entirety of your trip and then Battleface would cover you for the high-risk part. Again, check with them if you are going to multiple countries and/or getting cover for your entire trip.
  • High Risk Voyager: Another good choice for high-risk destinations.

You can read more about insurance for high-risk destinations here.

Rock My Adventure – Small Group African Adventure Tours

Want to experience Africa my way?

Then join one of our small group African adventure tours!

Our tours incorporate the best elements of solo travel with the best elements of more traditional group tours, bringing together individuals for fun, laid-back backpacking/flashpacking trips.

Our aim is to rock your adventure and make sure you have an amazing experience on your trip to Africa by organising an epic and culturally immersive itinerary, at an affordable price but without the stress of planning and booking everything yourself.

Some of the places we travel to are notoriously difficult, expensive and lonely to travel to by yourself, so we solve that problem by providing you with a ready-made group of travel buddies.

Our exciting, fun and cultural trips take place in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, the DRC, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, eSwatini, Lesotho, Mozambique and Sierra Leone with new destinations being added frequently.

Ready to fall in love with Africa? Then click here

“It has taken me 8 months to write this review because I couldn’t find the right words to describe it. It was perfect. Helen (you) are the perfect host. You know your stuff. You are good to the local guides you work with. You were always smiling. It was by far the best thing Jon and I have done together since backpacking through SEA in the early 90’s. We thought we had lost the opportunity to feel that authentic travel. We are very experienced travellers, flashpackers, and there is no way we could have arranged this on our own. We loved that it never ever felt like we were on a tour. We felt like we met up with long lost friends for a backpacking reunion. The cast of characters and the relationships formed were because of how you put this trip together. It. Was. Life changing. All of it. The trip was so good Helen. I’ve recommended you to everyone I know. Thank you.”

(Heather & Jon / Canada / Rock My Uganda, Rwanda & DRC Adventure 2018)

See all Testimonials here.

Safaris & Overland Tours

 Safari Companies

Finding your perfect safari can be a little tricky. Hardly any safari companies (that I’ve found anyway) state their prices on the website.

It’s usually a process of collecting quotes (which can be a bit of a pain) or using an agent to do so. The prices vary wildly for safaris based on method of travel, number of people and type of lodgings.

For instance, for a 3-day safari in the Serengeti/Ngorongoro Crater, you’re looking at a minimum of $500 for budget camping, $900 – $1,500 for mid-range and $1,500 + for high-end.

The good thing is, there are safaris for everyone, not just the super rich.

  • SafariBookings.com: This is a great resource for finding a safari to suit your needs without searching for hours on Google. You can search by country, number of days, cost etc. They have expert reviews and consumer reviews. You still need to contact the companies for quotes, but, it does help to narrow don the initial search!
  • Tripadvisor: I usually cross-reference any of the reviews from Safribookings.com with Tripadvisor, just to make sure!

Overland Tours

  • Intrepid Travel: Intrepid run tours to 28 different African countries so there’s a wide variety to choose from.
  • G Adventures: Various tours between 3 and 54 days, on the more expensive end of the overlanding scale.
  • Acacia Africa: I’ve not used Acacia but I hear good things about them friends. They offer different types of overland tours between 3 and 58 days.
  • Absolute Africa: I did a 73-day overland with Absolute Africa in 2009 and another shorter one in 2014. They’re a great budget option, with mostly camping and I’d highly recommend them.

 

Safari Guides

 

Kenya

  • Masai Mara National Reserve
  • Amboseli National Park
  • Samburu National Reserve

Tanzania

  • Serengeti National Park
  • Ngorongoro Crater

Malawi

  • Liwonde National Park

Zambia

  • South Luangwa National Park

Botswana

  • Okavango Delta

Please Note: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which will earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you. Affiliate sales help with the running costs of this site, so thank you for your support!.